Winner of the 1991 Booker Prize--Britain's most prestigious literary award--and a tour de force by a brilliant young Nigerian writer, The Famished Road takes place in the impoverished ghetto community of an African country. The narrator, a spirit-child with special powers that lead him into mischief, persuades readers to see the world through his revealing eyes.
Publisher's Weekly Review
Teeming with fevered, apocalyptic visions as well as harrowing scenes of violence and wretched poverty, this mythic novel by Nigerian short-story writer ( Stars of the New Curfew ) and poet Okri won the 1991 Booker Prize. The narrator, Azaro, is a spirit child who maintains his ties to the supernatural world. Possessed by `` boiling hallucinations, '' he can see the invisible, grotesque demons and witches who prey on his family and neighbors in an African ghetto community. For him (and for the reader), the passage from the real to the fantastic world is seamless and constant; many of the characters--the political thugs, grasping landlords and brutal bosses--are as bizarre as the evil spirits who empower them. In a series of vignettes, Azaro chronicles the daily life of his small community: appalling hunger and squalor relieved by bloody riots and rowdy, drunken parties; inhuman working conditions and rat-infested homes. The cyclical nature of history dooms human beings to walk the road of their lives fighting corruption and evil in each generation, fated to repeat the errors of the past without making the ultimate progress that will redeem the world. Okri's magical realism is distinctive; his prose is charged with passion and energy, electrifying in its imagery. The sheer bulk of episodes, many of which are repetitious in their evocation of supernatural phenomena, tends to slow narrative momentum, but they build to a powerful, compassionate vision of modern Africa and the magical heritage of its myths. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal Review
In this fantasy novel, winner of the 1991 Booker Prize, the spirit-child Azaro is reluctantly born on earth again and again--this time into a Nigerian family. The family intrigues him, and, ``tired of going and coming,'' he breaks his pact to return to the spirit-world at first opportunity. His fellow spirits torment him, but he perseveres. Azaro's earthly father is a hard-working laborer who tries to make money boxing, though he is often badly beaten. Struggling to make the human journey more than a ``famished road,'' the family finds that life is ``full of riddles only the dead can answer,'' and often not even they can. But through Azaro, whose persistent, poetic spirit admirably reflects Okri's prose, the family alternates between the dead and the living in search of understanding. Highly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/92.-- Kenneth Mintz, Hoboken P.L., N.J. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Ben Okri, 1959 - Nigerian novelist, Ben Okri was born in Minna to Grace and Silver Okri. After his birth, they moved to England so his father could study law. At the age of seven, his family returned to Nigeria and his father practiced in Lagos where the people couldn't afford normal legal fees. His childhood was influenced by the Nigerian civil war. He was constantly being withdrawn from schools so most of his education was at home in Lagos. After failing to be placed in a university, Okri began writing articles on social and political issues. Most of them were not published, but he began writing short stories based on these articles and they began finding their way into women's journals and evening papers. In 1978, he moved back to England where he studied comparative literature at Essex University but was forced to leave without a degree because of a lack of funds. He was a poetry editor of West Africa and worked also for the BBC. At nineteen, he finished his first novel "Flowers and Shadows" and it was published in 1980. The story attacked corruption in newly independent Nigeria and tells of a successful businessman whose jealous relatives make his life difficult. Okri's second novel, "The Landscapes Within" (1981), traces the adventures of a young, poor painter in Lagos. This novel was followed by two collections of short stories, "Incidents at the Shrine" (1986), and "Starts of the New Curfew" (1988). Several of the stories tell of the Biafran War from a child's eyes. The novel "The Famished Road" (1991) tells the story of a character who must choose between the pain of mortality and the land of the spirits. Okri's next novel, "Songs of Enchantment" (1993), continued with the mythical and poetical view of the world. "An African Elegy" (1992), is a collection of poems with classical themes. Okri has won several awards, which include the Booker Prize (1991), the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Africa (1987), the Paris Review Aga Khan prize for fiction, the Chianti Rufino-Antico Fattore International Literary Prize, and the Premio Grinzane Cavour. (Bowker Author Biography)